SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Despite the pandemic, this bustling premier Freeport remains as the top tourist destination in Central Luzon and 5th in the entire country for 2021.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Tourism department manager Jem Camba disclosed that the Department of Tourism (DOT) named the Subic Bay Freeport as the number one tourist destination in Central Luzon with 7,374,332 visitors and 737,486 tourists for the year 2021, while also ranking 5th among the most visited places in the country.
“We have established and followed strict health and safety protocols since the pandemic broke, because we had to ensure the safety of guests entering the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. [This is] so that we could promote Subic Freeport as a safe destination for tourists, with the strict adherence to the health and safety guidelines set by the national government,” Camba said.
She added that during the second year under the pandemic, the tourism industry of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone continued to thrive via digital marketing, online business-to-business meetings, and travel fairs, not to mention creating QR codes for easy access of information regarding tourism and health and safety guidelines being implemented here.
It was also during this time of the pandemic when bubble events boomed, usually used in the sports tourism industry such as the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, FilBasket, and beach volleyball. The Freeport was also the place to go for locked-in tapings as it became the venue for film shoots.
Camba said the agency assures that the hotels and other tourism-related establishments complied with the health and safety standards set by the national government, as weekly inspections of the areas are being conducted by the agency on their compliance.
“We also utilized some of these hotels for either quarantine, leisure or mixed-use purposes. The quarantine hotels are areas where repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and non-OFWs stayed upon arrival at the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA),” she said.
She assured that almost all of the employees of these hotels have already been vaccinated to ensure the safety of their guests; other tourism-related establishments such as restaurants and theme parts have also followed suit.
Meanwhile, Subic’s tourism industry has a positive outlook for 2022 as more sports tourism events have resumed here. Recently, the SBMA played host to sports tourism events such as the 2022 Subic Bay International Triathlon, Audax Ride, FRIKE: Mountain Bike Fun Race, and the 2022 Rally Sprint Series Round 1.
Events such as the EZ Mil Panalo Homecoming Tour, Gold’s Gym Muscle Contest, Pickleball National Tournament, Subic Bay Ironkids, Subic Bay 5150, and the continuation of the 2022 Rally Sprint Series will draw more tourists before the end of the year.
“Aside from these events, the SBMA will resume its cruise ship arrivals by next year. Companies such as the Royal Caribbean have already confirmed their arrival for 2023,” Camba said.
With all the upcoming activities, Camba also expressed hope for more tourism-related businesses to make it happen in the Philippines, particularly in Subic Freeport.